City leaders in Columbus make plans for CSX train increase

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Two major announcements for Columbus projects were announced on Wednesday at Cummins headquarters downtown.

The first project details the commitment for improvements at Cummins current buildings in Columbus. The second announcement outlines a $30 million project to improve traffic flow as a result of CSX rail improvements and additional trains.

Right now, CSX engineers are working to repair and maintain rail lines from Louisville to Indianapolis. In just a few months, on those tracks, will be dozens of additional trains.

In Columbus, train traffic will go from about 8 to 22 at the intersection located at State Road 46 and Indiana 11. The city said that equates to about one train each hour moving through the main intersection to get into and out of the downtown area.

Courtesy: City of Columbus

The area is already packed with traffic. The city estimates more than 40,000 vehicles travel on it each day.

Courtesy: City of Columbus

Columbus Mayor, James Linehoop said the trains are expected to move at about 40mph in the county, but when they approach the city, the lines have a dramatic curve. That means, trains will move much slower at about 15-20 mph. The city has known for awhile that this challenge would require some changes for traffic flow.

A $30million project was approved by the state that would create an overpass above the existing rail line.

“The overpass will be designed to carry state road 46 up and over the railroad and up and over state road 11,” Mayor Linehoop said. He added, “It will align up with one of the existing bridges, what we call the Stewart Bridge, which crosses the white river into the downtown area of Columbus.”

Construction for the overpass likely won’t begin until 2019, which means in the meantime, the city has to come up with creative solutions to keep traffic moving and not disrupt emergency services.

Courtesy: City of Columbus

Mayor Linehoop said some fire services have been moved to the opposite side of the tracks to ensure fire trucks and EMS aren’t stuck waiting for a train to pass. Improvements have also been made to county roads as a backup for both emergency services and commuters.

“We will install cameras at other crossings up and down the rail line and those cameras will feed back to our emergency 911 dispatch center, so if we have an emergency vehicle that we have to dispatch, we will at least know where the trains are,” said Mayor Linehoop.

Out of the $30 million, the state is funding $15 million. A Cummins TIF will fund $5 million. A Bartholomew County TIF will fund $2 million and CSX will pay for 5% of the project, which is about $1.5 million. With those funds, the city is still short about $6.5 million to build the overpass. Mayor Linehoop said the goal is to complete the project without having to increase taxes.

You can view more on the project by clicking here.